Dil Bechara trailer: Sushant Singh Rajput’s last film is a fitting tribute
Perhaps the best way to honour the actor’s legacy is to embrace the underlying hopefulness of his films
Two ironies bookend the story of Sushant Singh Rajput’s demise. In Chhichhore (2019), his last theatrical release, the actor played a father keeping vigil by his hospitalised son, narrating old college stories to help him recover from a suicide attempt. In his final film, Dil Bechara, he plays Immanuel/Manny, a boy with osteosarcoma who falls for Kizie (Sanjana Sanghi), a girl with cancer. When Kizie’s health deteriorates, Manny helps fulfill her last wish. They visit Paris together and seek a perfect end to their story.
Both films, with their celebration of life and optimism, leave a wrenching feeling in the aftermath of Sushant's passing. While Chhichhore placed friendship and self-preservation over ambition, Dil Bechara looks at love as the answer to human mortality. In both, you have a smiling Sushant at the centre, boyishly brightening up the screen with pranks, jokes and tidbits of wisdom. “We get so wound up in winning and losing, success and failure, that we forget to live,” his character said in Chhichhore. In Dil Bechara’s trailer, Manny says, “We can't decide when we take birth or die. But we can decide how to live…”
It’s hard to dissociate the facts of Sushant’s death from the underlying message of these films. The 34-year-old actor died by suicide at his Mumbai home on July 14. He was reportedly dealing with clinical depression and undergoing treatment. While no suicide note was recovered (the Mumbai police is still probing the case), there were allegations of the actor being upset over the state of his career.
The conversation that followed centred largely on Bollywood’s treatment of outsiders. Many pointed out how Sushant, despite starring in several major films, was sidelined by the industry’s cliques and inner circles. The offscreen Sushant, fans came to understand, was as susceptible to the pressures of a brutal and dogmatic film world as anyone else. Equally apparent was the gulf between perfunctory portrayals of mental health in our movies, and the lack of actual awareness in the larger public.
Yet, despite it all, perhaps the best way to honour Sushant’s legacy is to embrace the innate hopefulness of his films. From Kai Po Che! to Dil Bechara, his roles exuded a youthful exuberance (so did the actor in person, as evinced in numerous tributes written after his death). If artists seek immortality through their work, then they are best celebrated in transit — in the searching simplicity of their art than the cold finality of their lives and deaths. “The closest synonym to happiness is excitement,” the actor once said. It is this excitement — for his work, his films, his passions and dreams — that we are now left to preserve.
The trailer of Dil Bechara begins and ends with a grinning Sushant. That smile may have hidden a lot, but it’s all we got to remember him by.